I like a hot lunch. I like using up little bits left in the fridge. And I especially like when my kids eat their veggies and love it! So this easy turkey mac is a regular staple around the Brundage Homestead. The ingredients tend to change a little each time based on what we have on hand, but there is always some tube shaped pasta, diced veggies, and yummy creamy cheese sauce. The best part of all is that this whole dish takes only two pans and 20 minutes to cook, making it a great choice for a hot lunch or a busy weeknight dinner.
This time I happened to have some frozen bell peppers, half an onion, and one baby zucchini hanging around so that is what i diced and sauteed up, but I have been known to use leeks, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, really any vegetable that just needs to be used up. Since the dice is pretty small the kids aren’t too picky about it….that and the cheese sauce probably doesn’t hurt either 😉 Speaking of the cheese sauce, this is another thing I just kind of improvise with whatever cheese we have. I like to use 2-3 cheeses if I can, such as cheddar, white cheddar, jack, gruyere, just be careful to avoid mozzarella because I find it makes the sauce kind of stringy. This particular batch I made with this new cheese I found at Trader Joe’s called “unexpected cheddar” and I thought it was really delicious, although a bit sharp if your kids aren’t into sharp cheese. I added some regular yellow cheddar to balance it out. Then I ate seconds. Yum.
- 1/2 lb ground turkey
- 1-2 cups diced vegetables, such as onion, mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic
- 21 seasoning (Trader Joe’s) or italian seasoning
- 1/2 box pasta, such as mini penne, bowtie, or macaroni
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 cups shredded cheese
- garlic powder and paprika to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
Put a pot of water on to boil and cook pasta according to package, drain, and set aside. Meanwhile dice your vegetables and shred your cheese, then heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add your turkey and brown, seasoning well with 21 seasoning, then add your diced vegetables and cook until soft and onion is translucent. While that is cooking, use your pasta pot to make the cheese sauce. Heat the butter until melted, then whisk in the flour, and cook 1-2 minutes to make a roux, before slowly adding the milk, whisking the whole time. Bring to a boil and cook about 5 minutes until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat, add cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika and stir well until smooth. Add the cooked pasta and cheese sauce to the meat/vegetable mixture and combine. For dinner serve with a green salad and a slice of homemade rosemary bread. Makes 6-8 servings.
You can make this ahead of time and freeze in portions for even quicker meals. Just add a little milk to the pan when you reheat it to make the sauce creamy again.
What is your favorite cheese to use for cheese sauce or macaroni and cheese? I would love to hear in the comments. You might also like to check out some of our other family favorite recipes here.